In Retrospect: AM Ceramics 2018
The aim of this event is to share experiences on different topics related to AM, to discuss the issues that arise when a new technology is introduced into an established industry and also to explore its limits. We also wanted to explore the advantages of this technology, as well as create paths for new potential applications in many diverse industries.
With more than 100 attendants from industry, science and research, the third AM Ceramics opened by Dr. Johannes Homa, CEO of Lithoz® and host of the event. Professor Jens Günster from BAM (Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung) moderated the sessions with his expert knowledge of ceramics and 3D printing.
Tom Wasley, from the MTC, gave the first presentation, discussing aspects involved in the wider adaptation of AM technology in industry. Although there has been a growth in the adaptation and usage of AM, there is still a reluctance to employ this technology due to the innovative changes it brings and its rapid growth.
Professor Graule, of EMPA in Switzerland, spoke about the development of UV-curable acrylate-based ceramic dispersions and how they can be shaped to become dense or porous green and sintered parts, focusing particularly on micro parts and gradient structures.
The final presentation of this first session was given by Dr. Alexander Platzer, of Imerys Technology Center Austria GmbH. Dr. Platzer shared his insight into the requirements for the 3D printing of casting cores and compared the material properties of slurry and pre-fired AM ceramic mixes with the existing technology of injection molding.
Following the conclusion of the first session, there was an engaging discussion about ‘Future perspectives: AM for Industry’. Professor Günster then gave an impulse lecture concerning ‘Printing on the moon’, and showcased various innovative experiments related to the possibility of printing under microgravity. This was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Johannes Homa, with Jens Günster (BAM), Holger Wampers (Alumina Systems) and Karin Scharrer (Göller Verlag) sharing their valuable expertise and opinions. Various topics, such as the similarities between the market entry of the AM technology and the now well-established ceramic injection molding (CIM), were discussed. Ms. Scharrer reminded us that when CIM first appeared on the market, only a few thought that it would reach the status of conventional technology, and that AM seems to be following the same path. Pioneers in the adoption of AM, such as Dr. Wampers, are experiencing their first success stories, with surely many more to come in the future.
The first day ended with a meet-and-greet at Lithoz®, where enthusiastic networking conversations and lively discussions took place as participants met with experts from Lithoz®.
The next morning started with a most interesting session concerning the medical applications of AM. Dr. Russmüller, a dentist and surgeon at the General Hospital of Vienna, highlighted examples of bone regeneration and the success of using bio-absorbable ceramics in the jaw and cranial area.
Mr. Martin Reinauer, of KLS, then gave an industrial perspective on the potential of AM in creating medical devices, and spoke about the possibility of digitally planning operations such as creating implant designs for dysgnathia operations. He also shared his positive experiences using patient specific implants which were made from resorbable ceramics and produced using LCM technology.
Dr. Daniel Bomze, of Lithoz®, closed the session with his outlook on new biomaterials, and the new possible software solutions for medical applications.
It is challenging to find applications that employ AM in its entirety, and thus that fully exploit its potential; therefore, we are very lucky that there are some excellent examples in industry that highlight its wide range of possibility and potential.
Dr. Mühler, of Alumina Systems, showcased his inventions in printing nozzles to highlight how AM can improve an existing tool. The advantages included an increased lifetime of the tool and a high level of quality, as well as having a reduced machine down time. The gas distribution was optimized through AM, and suddenly a uniform coating of a controlled thickness was possible. This was achieved through the hard work and determination of people dedicated to working with and “thinking AM” in order to invent new solutions and tools, instead of recreating existing devices.
Mr. Henrikson, of Ceramico, could unfortunately not make his scheduled presentation, but Dr. Homa was happy to stand in and give a presentation about the key drivers for AM. He highlighted that AM is already on the edge of serial production, but that many companies are still reluctant to use this technology. He also talked about the obstacles and problems related to implementing AM in industry. Mr. Turski, of INP Greifswald, then discussed his project related to plasma technology, and shared his expectations in gaining new insights into this technology with the help of ceramic isolators.
The last session focused on material testing, and the different approaches and possible methods of testing ceramics and other substances. In this session, it was discussed how the additive manufacturing of ceramic materials not only offers new possibilities in terms of shaping and fabricating complex and intricate designs, but also how it raises new questions and challenges concerning the testing and characterization of materials and components produced through AM.
Mr. Scheithauer, of Fraunhofer IKTS, showcased the different shapes and tilts of objects produced through AM, and how these properties can greatly affect the strength of the components.
Professor Christiansen, of the Helmholz Institute, measured micro cracks in materials, and discussed how these measurements can be used to predict future behavior and even bone diseases.
The final presentation was given by Dr. Aran Rafferty, and highlighted his thorough research into the porosity of alumina relating to curing temperature.
AM Ceramics 2018 was summarized by Dr. Homa: “This year’s AM Ceramics showed that some companies are really starting to employ AM in their daily business, and as a result have already experienced a number of success stories. Other companies are still in the early stages of employing AM, but they are highly interested and on the edge of starting to work with this technology.”